October 22, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Unicorns that sneeze rainbows

Unicorns that sneeze rainbows

Advice is what you seek when you know the right thing to do, but don’t want to do it. What happens when you don’t know the right thing to do? That is what is facing businesses today, and it all boils down to massive content, evolving cultures and the need for knowledge.

Content relevance is the lowest common denominator of what keeps someone engaged and on your web site. If you are interested in this, you’ll keep reading. If not, nothing personal. The sneezing Unicorns will wait.

People who write content for blogs or company web sites likely believe they create effective content. But what makes content effective? Authority, findability and relevance.

Obviously, you must at least sound credible on the subject you are writing about. That means complete information. The content you write must be findable on the web site when the user needs it and must line up with what a reader deems relevant. If you have lots of updated, relevant content, you are more likely to have repeat visitors for as long as content updates and remains relevant.

Sales web sites sometimes churn the products on their home page based on what sells better in a given day part. News sites are more likely to billboard weekend events on Thursday and Friday than on Tuesday. Both types of sites are adding communities to share opinions. All of these are being done to keep relevant to the visitor.

The best way to know if you are succeeding in this is to measure web site usage. Hits, page views and unique visitors are frequently used, but none of these are accurate. Heck, there IS no such thing as a web “hit”; unique visitors are really measuring unique cookies to a single browser and page views rarely lead to valid conclusions.

You first need to determine what comprises a successful visit. Hint: It’s not a sale. There are many elements that lead up to a sale. Once you can identify what the intent and success of your visitor is, then you can effectively target the content you want to share with them.

The analytics needed may be different for each type of site, product or content.

To capture some low hanging fruit, look at the searches in your on-site search engine. What are they typing and what happens to the users? Look at the searches coming from Google and Yahoo! What are they typing? Visitors are literally telling you what they need and can’t find in their own words. Are you adjusting your web site to help them?

Once I heard someone from a legal department saying that “customers must type in the correctly spelled trademark name to find the product, or they’ll never learn.” The problem is they will learn your competitor’s name before getting yours right.

As a people, we are generating content and in amounts that Gutenberg and his movable type printing press could not even imagine. We have developed into a content-hungry culture where some 20 percent of us are willing to develop our own content. That’s some 40 million plus blogs, and yes, there are readers.

Is this culture pervasive in your company, or do you limit content production to just a few people?

This is a huge question that tells a lot about your business. If you centralize content production, you are missing what everyone you’ve paid to train is learning about your products and services. You spend money to grow their knowledge, right? Why not benefit further by allowing for more collaboration in your content. You could be missing the opportunity to improve your products at a quicker rate and increase profits while making your employees feel more valuable. What you WILL need is to have many people writing and a few people editing for correctness, grammar, consistency, flow and trademark correctness.

And yes, make sure the content is findable.

Video, podcasts, Flash animations and text are content, whether you like it that way or not. People expect to be reached in a way and medium where the content is relevant.

Either way, those people will talk. The power of WOM (word of mouth) has always been important, but enhanced with Internet speed and communities like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the like, they are chatting up a powerful storm that will blindside you if your are not careful.

The world has changed. It is no longer round, nor flat. It is Twitter-bird shaped and people are talking about you, your products and services.

If you doubt that swing over to www.PRMetrics.com. It will show you Flickr, web video, Twitter, blog references and other media about your company or products. Search a few different ways. Also check Tweetgrid.com for another look into Twitter, where the average user is employed and likely above 25 years of age.

You’ve been seeking advice, but didn’t want to change. Content, knowledge and culture are the new games in town. People are creating and viewing content at home, work and on their phones. And as for the Unicorns that sneeze rainbows: only the Emperor with the new clothes can see them.

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